dglobalnews.com Iran holds first major military exercise in Gulf as U.S. concerns rise
Published: Wed, March 01, 2017
Global Media | By Cecelia Webb

Iran holds first major military exercise in Gulf as U.S. concerns rise

On Sunday, the Iranian navy commenced large-scale exercises over an area of 2 million square kilometres, stretching from the Strait of Hormuz and Oman Sea to the north of the Indian Ocean and Bab Al-Mandab Strait.

Iranian media reported that the navy also tested the Nasir, described as the "latest version of its home-made coast-to-sea cruise missile".

Tasnim news agency said the Dehlaviyeh, a laser-guided missile, had also been successfully tested.

It comes after tensions between the U.S. and Iran heighten, following the election of President Donald Trump and Tehran's earlier test firing of ballistic missiles.

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hussein Dehqan told FNA today that the cruise missile has hit the specified target with maximum precision.

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If they failed to do so, the government would consider them "terrorists", he said. "We want direct talks, direct negotiation". But it has seen repeated bombings since, including twin attacks previous year that killed 64.

An Iranian warship and speed boats take part in a naval war game in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, southern Iran April 22, 2010.

Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said, while announcing the beginning of the last stage of the drills, "The aim of the Velayat 95 drill is to upgrade the country's defensive capabilities and send Iran's message of peace and friendship to the regional countries".

"We don't respond well to sanctions, but we respond very well to mutual respect", Zarif said. Iran has test-fired several ballistic missiles since the nuclear deal in 2015, but the latest test was the first since Trump became president.

"The enemy should not be mistaken in its assessments, and it will receive a strong slap in the face if it does make such a mistake", Gen. Pakpour warned. U.S. Gulf allies have long favored a tougher U.S. stance against Iran, whom they blame for regional interference.

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